|Home > News||1 November 2002|
Travelling Film Festival brings the world to Fiji
In the weeks following the Johannesburg Summit, Fijian teenagers actively engaged in their own mini-summits to save the planet -- thanks to the Fiji Travelling Film Festival.
The festival, the first of its kind in the Pacific island nation, was organised by the South Pacific Programme of the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF-SPP), and supported under TVE Asia Pacific's Truth Talking Project. It toured several schools in western Fiji, screening video films that raised awareness and inspired wide-ranging discussions on environmental and development. Most titles came from TVE.
"The event was a great success," reported Bernadette Masianini, communications manager at WWF-SPP. "The remote rural areas of Fiji are difficult to access, and the children there have little opportunity to see such films. I was struck by the delight on their faces during the screening and even beforehand, their looks of wonder at the hi-tech equipment being set up."
She added, "It was a pleasure to bring the film festival to these eager students, to raise awareness in the minds of young people that they can make a difference. And that with issues like poverty, child labour and environmental degradation, they can succeed where the adults have failed."
WWF-SPP, which became a Video Resource Centre affiliated with TVE in 2000, is now building up a collection of video films on environment and development. These films will be available to users not only in Fiji, but across the 22 Pacific island nations that comes under the sub-regional programme's purview.
The highlight of the festival was The Children of Rio, part of TVE's Earth Report series. This programme followed the lives of ten children in different parts of the world who were born in mid 1992, around the time of the first Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. The film aims to discover what impact the promises made at the Rio Summit have had on the children's lives.
The Fijian children who watched this film - most of who were only a few years older than those featured in it -- realised that the answer was 'very little'.
They watched the story of Erdo, a Kenyan boy who braves cattle raiders and bandits to journey to school each day, and Panjarvanam (Panjy, a 10 year-old Indian girl whose father recently died, and has had to give up schooling to work all day in a local factory to support her family.
"The students were struck by a desire to do something to help. Discussions soon started as to how best to tackle such problems," reported Masianini.
Alena, a young girl at the local Methodist school, says the festival gave her and her friends "the incentive to work harder". She added: "It filled us with hope that we could change the world."
Although Fiji itself is a poor developing country, its island status means it is often isolated from the rest of the world. Commenting on the festival, a local teacher said, "It is good for the students to see real situations; to see what life is like in other developing countries."
All the students and teachers present said they were deeply moved by the stories in the films on show.